The Trump administration has chosen former Fox News reporter Lea Gabrielle the special envoy and coordinator of the Global Engagement Center as part of the State Department’s efforts to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation. The announcement had been predicted to come as soon as today, according to two officials with knowledge of the matter.
“Lea will provide the permanent leadership we have needed to bolster the Global Engagement Center’s operations,” said Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino. “She will begin her duties on Monday.”
You heard that right: a Fox News reporter hired to head up the State Department’s counter-propaganda efforts.
.@StateDeputySpox: I am pleased to announce that Lea Gabrielle will be our new Special Envoy and Coordinator of the Global Engagement Center. Lea will provide the permanent leadership we have needed to bolster the GEC’s operations. pic.twitter.com/Pfer5QmNKM
— Department of State (@StateDept) February 7, 2019
Gabrielle’s name was first floated for the position in September, and she would join a number of Fox News journalists, such as Heather Nauert, the State Department spokesperson, and the Bill Shine, the White House Communications chief, who’ve been hired by the Trump administration to serve key policy roles.
A former general assignment reporter for Shepard Smith Reporting, Gabrielle, a United States Naval Academy graduate and ex-fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy, previously worked as a military reporter. She courted controversy last year after she criticized President Donald Trump on air over his plans for a military parade in Washington, referring to the idea as “completely unnecessary.”
The GEC’s mission includes “countering the adverse effects of state-sponsored propaganda and disinformation.” Gabrielle’s appointment comes at a time when the United States is contending with online disinformation campaigns, such as one that the Justice Department spoke of last week after a pro-Russian Twitter account disseminated confidential information from a case the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller brought against a Russian company.
But Gabrielle is inexperienced and would not be up to the task, according to Brett Bruen, a former White House director of global engagement during the Obama administration.
“Lea may be a great reporter and pilot. She has evidenced absolutely no knowledge of or experience with information warfare. Our nation, indeed the world, faces a serious and sophisticated threat. We need leadership that can take on this danger from day one,” he said. “Her appointment endangers our elections, our public discourse, and potentially our economy.”
The irony of Gabrielle’s appointment is not lost on anyone, given her previous affiliation with Fox News, which has repeatedly come under fire for its often flattering coverage of the president and the tendency of its staff to amplify the president’s messaging, even when shown to be false or misleading.
In other words, the Nazi Propaganda Department will be established under Lea Gabrielle… https://t.co/MYS1OXwoQV
— RedactedTrooth (@BlueTrooth) February 7, 2019
If anyone knows disinformation, it’s somebody who’s worked at Fox “News.”
— sinsf (@7by7SF) February 7, 2019
She should know a lot about propaganda and disinformation.
— Michael Sweet (@LeroyTheLips) February 7, 2019
Putting a fox in charge of the henhouse. Literally. And I'm not referring to her appearance.
— seasweetie (@seasweetie62) February 7, 2019
One administration official says the extent of Gabrielle’s qualifications for the role is unclear. However, they expressed a belief that she’ll be “an effective spokesperson.”